Every Thursday morning I help with our congregations preschool. Playing with the kids, drawing and coloring, and helping them with crafts is always a great joy. I personally think that kids can be hilarious. They can say the funniest things. And it is so neat to me how much personality they have. While helping in craft time last week, the thought popped into my head, "I wonder what I was like at age five." Like, if I were to be able to see myself, and spend time with the five-year-old me, what would I think of myself? What would I say to myself? How would I have acted in our Thursday "Sunshine School"? What would I think of little Gary? Would I have to keep him from running around the class room? I know I would have to tell him that "it is now time to listen and not talk" (I remember hearing those words a lot as a child). I would really like to see if this "little" Gary would stress me out or not, or if I would think he were the coolest little guy ever. As I pondered these things I began to wonder what it would be like to meet the thirteen year old Gary, the twenty-one year old Gary, and to meet myself as I am right now. What would I think of myself? Would I like me, if I met me? Would I think that I was a jerk, or a really friendly guy? Would I like hanging out and spending time with me, or would I hate myself and think I was lame. Would I be the kind person that I would try to avoid?
If I were to somehow meet myself there are two things that I hope that I would notice. First off, I hope that I could see noticeable change between the old me and the current me. As a disciple we should be in a constant state of growth as day by day we are being transformed. (2 Cor 4:16) Because we are in a constant state of growth and transformation, the me of today should be far more mature than the me of five years ago. Likewise, the me of five years from now should be all the more mature. Sure, there will be times in our lives when we undergo more growth and transformation than others. Certain events and situations that God puts us in cause us to grow and shape us more into Christ own likeness. AIM field times experiences are such an event. In my life it represents a great mile-marker. The Christian life is one where we are constantly undertaking life transforming tasks for God. The moment we stop undergoing adventures and challenges is the same moment our spirituality plateaus. Our new ministries therefore are all the more challenging than our old ones. Our discipleship unto Jesus should be lived out radically in this world. It is only while we are carrying our own cross in pursuit of Christ that we are truly living out the Adventure that being a Christian really is. We must always keep are eyes fixed on the horizon to what lies ahead. Sometimes dwelling on our triumphs of the past can keep us from conquering our adventures of the future.
Secondly, I hope that when meeting myself I notice something radically different about myself in comparison to the lives others. Hopefully, I would be able to see the genuine quality of Christ-likeness within myself. When meeting myself of course I would be able to recognize all that which is actually me, actually Gary. But what I seriously hope to be able to see is all that is clearly Christ. Paul put it this way, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me". (Galatians 2:20) If I were to meet myself would I be able to see Christ in all that I am? If I were to meet myself would I the Good Life (eternal life) that God has given me be so evident that I could sense its presence? Would it be clear that Christ is living incarnate within me?
The sister duo band Tegan and Sara have a popular song entitled "You Wouldn't Like Me" where they clam "I feel like I wouldn't like me if I met me." On the flip-side, there is an episode of the TV show Seinfeld where Jerry says that he has fallen in love with a woman who is just like himself. He tells his neighbor Kramer, "Now I know what I've been looking for all of these years: Myself! And now that I've found me, I've swept myself off of my feet!"
Well that is how Jerry, Tegan, and Sara feel about meeting themselves but what about me and what about you? Would you like who are? Would you like who you have become? If our answer is no, then what is it that we need to change? In meeting the old you, could you see how much you've grown over the years? In meeting the current you, would you be able sense the radiance of Christ?
May we daily take up our own cross as we follow Christ in His adventures in our world. Only then can we look forward to meeting the you and me of tomorrow and years to come, because it is on this journey that we become all the more like Christ our King.
If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?- Jesus (Luke 9:23-25)
- Gary Ford II